Greeting Text

Following twenty years of farmer's markets selling locally grown vegetables, native fruits, and local honey Linda created Marianne's Kitchen in Shoreview, MN, an oasis of good food, conversation and laughter in a suburban food desert. Operating from 2011-2017 the cafe offered home made soups, fresh bread baked daily, great sandwiches and treats and a complete line of gluten-free soups, pickled products, jams, jellies, salsas and locally sourced soups, honey and grains.

The Marianne's Kitchen of sharing, conversation, and learning continues with ongoing commentary, food reviews and food finds as we grow, cook and eat our food and sample local restaurants.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Let’s talk pickles

For many years, people pickled their vegetables during the summer to make sure there were some kinds of vegetables to eat in the winter, other than potatoes, onions, parsnips, carrots (which could be stored to last most of the winter).  Cucumbers, peppers, peaches, and many other fruits and vegetables were only available during the summer, so people preserved them for use in the winter.  Pickling was one tasty way to do this.

Times have changed.  Fruits and vegetables are flown in from all over the world (lots of food miles) to be available during the winter.   But people have grown to love the taste of pickles...cucumbers (dill, bread and butter, sweet and hot), beets (pickled beets, spiced beets), mixed vegetables (jardini√®re, muffaletta, hot pickle mix), peppers (relish, mixed veggie pickles), even watermelon rinds!

But not all pickles are created the same way. We use wholesome ingredients in our pickles.  Commercial pickles are cheaper.  Why?  Remember the adage---‘you get what you pay for’….well, that explains a lot of the difference.

Most commercial pickles are made with artificial ingredients, such as artificial preservatives, colors and flavors .  For example, many commercial dill pickles contain no dill….only artificial ‘dill’ flavor (sort of like frozen ‘blueberry’ pancakes...they contain ‘blueberry flavored bits’—no actual fruit).   Here’s a list of some common commercial pickle additives:

(information from LabelWatch)
Oleoresin  (flavoring/coloring agent) derived from seeds, roots, leaves, or fruit using solvents such as hexane, acetone, ethanol/methanol, which are removed prior to use.

Sodium Benzoate (preservative) used to prevent bacteria and fungus in pickles.  It is safe for most people, though they can cause hives, asthma, or allergic reactions in sensitive individuals.  They also negatively affect children with ADHD.
Cautionary Ingredient - This ingredient appears to be problematic.

Sodium Bisulfite (preservative, bleach) prevents discoloration of fruit and frozen potatoes.  It can cause severe reactions for asthmatics.  In the 1980s, 12 deaths were caused by this ingredients in sensitive indivduals as well as less severe reactions in others.  Much ‘fast food’ lettuce is bagged lettuce preserved with sulfites to make it appear ‘fresh’.  The FDA has banned the most dangerous uses of sulfites, but this ingredient still appears in many products.
Cautionary Ingredient - This ingredient appears to be problematic

If you read your grocery store or discount store pickle labels, you’ll often find one or more of these ingredients.  They are an inexpensive way to produce pickles that have the color of traditional pickles or may taste like ‘dill pickles’ even though they contain no dill.  Is this bad?   If you’re not allergic/sensitive to these ingredients, they’re probably okay (except where they may contribute to tissue damage, cancer, etc).  But, really, why risk it?  To save a buck?  What is your health or your child’s health worth?

Our dill pickles contain dill...fresh dill or dill seeds.  We only use American grown garlic (the stuff from China that isn’t properly cured is safe to eat, but it turns neon blue/green when pickled….ewwwww!).  I noticed last week there was a recall of foreign green beans.  But, the green beans had been sold between last May and last July….it took that long to get the word about the problem….hmmm, anyone have any of last May’s green beans sitting around?  Many big box and discount store foods are from other countries (there is no ‘country of origin labeling requirement on many products)…they’re cheap because they are sourced from the ‘low cost producer’ anywhere in the world—usually without regard to labor standards, food safety standards, etc….because ‘cheap’ is what people want and where the profits are.

We use high quality vinegar, cane sugar (beet sugar is genetically modified), local veggies, and real herbs and spices, not artificial flavors.  We think you can taste the difference.

So, that’s our pickle lesson for the day. 

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Cajun Potluck

Crawfish boil, red beans & rice.
Gumbo, andouille, etoufee,
Community Coffee, red velvet cake,
Caf√© du Monde, sugared beignet…

We are sad to bid farewell to another family owned independent business in Shoreview….Cajun Potluck.

Claudia brought a little bit of Cajun country to the northern suburbs…a little spice, some great music, a crawfish boil, and a place for the community to gather.  We hope that everyone had a chance to visit Cajun Potluck over the last five years and enjoy some spicy andouille or to take home a beignet mix or bag of coffee from Baton Rouge.
As a community we are all poorer when we lose the opportunity to visit a business created with a person or family’s vision of something interesting, something that brings their personal life experience to their neighbors.  

When I travel around the country, it sometimes becomes difficult to remember which city I'm visiting---they all are starting to look alike—rows of big boxes, all the same (….like the old song lyrics “there’s a green one and a pink one and a blue one and a yellow one, and they’re all made out of ticky tacky, and they all look just the same”)---only on a 50,000 square foot national or international scale.   I like to seek out the independent places…sometimes great, sometimes not….but at least a little unexpected, offering a sense of anticipation.    Or you could just have a thawed out meal at another chain.  I prefer the former.

So, to Claudia, thanks for the memories and the experience.  We love the vision and experience you brought to us and wish you all the best.

Laissez Les Bon Temps Roulez

We're not just about food...

Our specials of the day included a salami sandwich on Kalamata Olive bread.  We also had those rolls, a very nice pumpernickel bread and an organic sourdough available for our customers, who are also our friends, to take home.

We know a lot of our customers by name and we often know what they are going to eat because some of them are pretty predictable.  That's certainly not a bad thing; John eats the avocado BLT almost every day.  In that spirit of predictability we can usually assure you that we'll be friendly, interested in you and hopefully we'll find something to laugh about.

Behind the counter can be interesting.  Being committed to a standard and attempting to get food out quickly and putting a happy face on operations can take it's toll.  We have a few constant points of conflict between Linda, Anne and John.  They are quite funny when I try to explain them:

  • never-ending conflicts about whether a soup cup is too full or not full enough
  • arguments about whether our "to go" orders should have napkins at the bottom of the bag or the top
  • how many words should we use to describe our daily specials
  • Facebook posts that are too wordy
  • Facebook posts should always have photos (or not)
  • It goes without saying that we argue about hours of operation all the time
  • "You talk too much to customers" or "You don't talk to customers enough"
  • Pantry shoppers:  "ask them if they need help" versus "leave them alone"
  • take all orders at once or drag it out tactfully
  • whether ketchup should be banned or offered

Indulge & Enjoy

 We eat everything we sell.  The brandy jams are, in Anne's word, "super!"  We're often partial to the hot pepper jellies later in the day, but when it's morning, you're facing another day with the challenges as life often presents them, a dollop of brandy jam on your toast (or just on a spoon) might make the sun shine, even on a cloudy day.


A Couple of Thoughts From Behind The Counter...
  • Customer:  "How long will this last?"
  • MK Staff     "What's wrong with you?" or "Not long once you taste it?"

  • Customer:  "How do you eat this?"
  • MK Staff:  "With a spoon."
 Our Facebook Post About Brandy Jams
"...was going to describe how to use brandy jams tonight--they are great on pork loin or duck, etc. For pork loin, use about a half cup of apricot or peach brandy jam, heated slightly, and mixed with a little mustard or dry mustard. Brush on before roasting, then use the remaining amount to baste again halfway through roasting.
But, I just read the review by Cynthia E (on the right side of the page)...and I like her idea the best.....right out of the jar with a spoon!!!!
p.s. you can have this for breakfast because the alcohol burns off during the jam-making process so you're just getting the concentrated brandy and real fruit flavors-hope that doesn't disappoint anyone : )"